Dear Madera families,
Last spring more than 200 Madera parents signed a petition in support of adding a sixth grade to Madera. I presented this to the school board and we were told that it was too late to consider this for the 2010/2011 school year, but that it would be reviewed in the Fall.
Recently Dr. Harter, our school superintendent, told me that this would be discussed this year, and at last week’s school board meeting, board member Charles Ramsey asked that this be put on the agenda for the October meeting!
Now is our opportunity: if you feel as I do that adding a sixth grade at Madera would be good for our school, and for our district, please let Dr. Harter and the board know how you feel. It’s important to stress that the sixth grade should NOT be added by revoking transfers of current students, but by the short-term addition of temporary classrooms.
Please call or email Dr. Harter and the board NOW, and mark your calendars for the October 6th board meeting!
Dr. Bruce Harter (510) 231-1100
The petition that we signed last spring is copied below for reference. Adding a sixth grade at Madera is something that has been talked about for many years– this is our chance to actually make it happen! Please let the board know how you feel.
We, the undersigned parents of Madera Elementary School students, strongly urge the West Contra Costa County Unified School District Board and administration to develop and implement plans to incorporate a sixth grade at Madera, and to convert Madera Elementary school from a K-5 school to a K-6 campus as soon as possible.
We strongly feel that this is the right thing for our student body and for the district, for the following reasons:
1. Madera is now the only remaining K-5 school in this part of the district, and the only school feeding their entire 6th grade population to Portola Middle School. This virtually eliminates the “melting pot” advantages of a middle school campus, and simply relocates Madera students intact to a different campus. We would prefer to keep Madera students at Madera for their entire K-6 education. It’s better educationally, socially, and for the strength of the Madera community.
2. With the uncertainty and reconstruction pending for Portola, Madera parents have chosen to leave WCCUSD for private school options after 5th grade. They tend to leave for at least three years, through the entire middle school years. This results in a dramatic loss of ADA funding for the district for these three years, and creates discontinuity when these students return to El Cerrito High School and the public school system.
3. The loss of this funding not only affects the district, but the PTA, which delivers critical support to our schools in these continuing times of budget crises. The Madera PTA provides more than $100,000 in direct funding for our school annually. By adding a sixth grade we can extend this support and keep parent contributions supporting public schools, not private.
4. A sixth grade could be added by temporarily installing two portable classrooms on the Madera lower playground. The retained ADA funding would more than pay for these additions. Adding these classrooms at Madera would reduce the footprint and classroom requirements at Portola, which would also produce some cost-saving offsets.
5. Madera’s student population has grown due to the closure of Castro, class size increases, the addition of a fourth incoming kindergarten class, and other factors. We strongly support keeping current transferees as part of the Madera community and not revoking any transfers. Over time, with modest reduction of transfers, some redistricting, and a return to three incoming Kindergarten classes, the future K-6 population of Madera could be contained within the permanent classrooms, and the portables could be removed.
6. A condition of the renovations completed at Madera was the removal of all temporary classrooms, but as a short-term solution related to the closure of Castro, the growth of Mira Vista as a K-8 school, and the reconstruction of Portola Middle School, we advocate for a temporary exception to this requirement.
The addition of a sixth grade should be done NOW– by the start of the 2010/2011 school year. We strongly urge the board and staff to implement these changes as soon as possible: this makes sense for the Madera community, is fiscally sound for the district, and will provide support to what we feel is one of the most successful schools in West Contra Costa County.